If there was an overarching theme to this year’s blockbuster Glastonbury Festival, it was that of unity.
First, there was the obvious fact that the Pilton party had been delayed for two years by the pandemic and it was a relief, to borrow a phrase from a certain headliner, to finally ‘Get Back’ together. Then there was solidarity with war-torn Ukraine, which a number of artists expressed onstage (not least perennial top lads The Libertines), while the country’s Eurovision winners Kalush Orchestra performed a barnstorming folk-rap set on a Truth Stage audience filled with their homeland’s flags.
A number of artists, too, showed solidarity with women in America, as news broke on the Thursday that the Supreme Court had voted overturned abortion rights in the US. Amyl and the Sniffers and Phoebe Bridgers chanted “Fuck The Supreme Court!”, and Olivia Rodrigo brought out Lily Allen, who dedicated her anthemic ‘Fuck You’ to those who’d showed “they truly don’t give a shit about freedom”.
On a more positive note, Worthy Farm was also a celebration of Glastonbury itself, given that the festival was finally able to mark its 50th anniversary, which was planned for 2020 before the world turned. Festival founder Michael Eavis received a hero’s welcome as he belted out Elvis’ ‘Suspicious Minds’ in the William’s Green tent, rocking his trademark denim shorts. Artists were in the mood to talk up Glasto, too, praising the energy, scale and magic of a cultural event unlike any other.
So NME caught up with your favourite famouses backstage at Glastonbury 2022 to reflect on their feelings about the greatest festival in the world.
– Jordan Bassett, Commissioning Editor (Music)
Interviews by: Jordan Bassett, Erica Campbell, Rhian Daly, Alex Flood, Ella Kemp, Hannah Mylrea, Thomas Smith, Andrew Trendell, Jenessa Williams, Sophie Williams
Pete Doherty, The Libertines
“Glastonbury always [had a place in Libertines’ hearts]. Carl was brought up like a babe in arms at Greenham Common with a real hippie background. He would always tell us stories about how they would dig tunnels under fences to get in. It was always a sacred thing, Glastonbury. It fed on the mythology a bit for him.
“My first Glastonbury? I think I was with Kate [Moss] at the time. We were really late and came in a Land Rover through the crowd. I can’t remember much about my first Glastonbury. I remember meeting my sister and I hadn’t seen her for years. She was arguing with her boyfriend in a field somewhere. We met at random. I also had a Vivienne Westwood cardigan that apparently belonged to Marc Bolan. I stole it from a fashion shoot. Vivienne Westwood sent an undercover agent. She basically sent this really fit bird backstage to derobe me of my cardigan. No, or course I don’t still have it. It was a £16,000 cardigan!
“I have memories of being in that tent where you put the headphones on and everyone dances to a different tune – the silent disco. I saw [Clash guitarist] Mick Jones in there; that was a good memory. Then, you know, five in the morning around a campfire in Strummerville. Things like that…” AT
“I did have Glastonbury in mind [when writing new album ‘How to Let Go’]. I had the whole festival experience in mind when writing this album. It was written for the past two years, and the one thing I was missing the most was festival season, being here. Glastonbury is one of my favourites – if not my favourite festival – so it’s pretty special to play it.” HM
Joe Mount, Metronomy
“Last night, for the first time I actually went and did more than I normally do and went to NYC Downlow [in Block9]. I won’t say how, but we managed to get in. People talk about Glastonbury and the other stuff that goes on and I’ve never really had a chance to enjoy that, so that was a highlight.
“But I remember the first time. That first time was really special, and I think it was in the dance tent in 2008, or something. We came and we played, and to actually even see people coming to watch you. [I remember] being like, ‘Wow! How do they know who we are?’” EC
Joe Talbot, IDLES
“Until you come here, you don’t understand the energy here. It’s a beautiful energy, and it isn’t a pretentious energy. It’s not a bunch of fucking smiles for no reason; people feel it. So for us, it’s our home and we grew up here and will never [treat it] lightly. We will always appreciate and want [to play] this more than anything.” JW
“When I first came here 20 years ago, it was with Moloko. This is my fourth gig here now. The first time, I was just bowled over by the response. I just wasn’t expecting it. We’d had two big records with ‘The Time Is Now’ and ‘Sing It Back’ – they’re still bangers – but I remember we weren’t headlining that summer; we stepped out on stage and the love that came back at me was just so unexpected. That was a moment and a confirmation. You know: ‘You’ve got a place; you’re actually a performer now – you can hold this’. There’s a lot of pressure for an artist to have so many cameras in front of them.
“It was an incredible moment; singing those songs and everyone knowing the words. We’d never experienced that. After that, we went off and played every festival going for three or four years. We got to master that, but Glastonbury was really the beginning of our live career. To come now 20 years later is amazing. I’m now headlining a stage [West Holts] and I’m really grateful. It represents time passing and how I’m still here doing this.” AT
“It’s definitely everything I expected [from my first Glastonbury] – the smell, the muckiness of it all. But it’s cute. I’m really excited to play. I do this thing in my room where I pretend I’m playing to a crowd, and pretend I’m playing Glastonbury. This is the first time I can actually do that, for real this time, which is wild. Does it feel good to make my Glasto debut in the John Peel tent? 100 per cent. I feel so honoured. I’m really excited but also extremely nervous.” RD
Alana: “We’ll play Glastonbury any time they want us to play. I don’t care. We’re just so happy to be here. Releasing [2020’s] ‘Women In Music Pt. III’ was a big deal for us. I think it’s our favourite album that we’ve put out, and it just felt so good to finally play it live on the Glastonbury stage.”
Danielle: “We watched crazy bootleg YouTube videos [of Glasto] in the States, as it wasn’t broadcast as widely in the States, so you had to find videos of different years. We were always huge fans of it. And I actually came here when I was 20 with Julian Casablancas. We played the John Peel Stage, and I told my sisters, ‘One day we will play Glastonbury. I don’t know when, I don’t know how, but one day we will make it.’”
Este: “And me and Alana were like: ‘We will!?’”
Alana: “I think today [on the Pyramid Stage] was my favourite time we ever played [here], I have to say. It’s hard to pick one moment that’s [the most] incredible…”
Este: “I have one! As an audience member when we saw Nile Rodgers… that was life-changing for me. I had my first cider. I’d never had a cider before. And I was watching Nile Rodgers with my first cider!” HM
Jason Williamson: “My relationship with Glastonbury? Mixed feelings, really. It’s such a big festival, isn’t it, but it’s good to get a slot on it. It’s completely international; everyone knows it. It’s good promo innit! But I never enjoy the gigs [at Glastonbury], do you know what I mean? [To producer Andrew Fearn] You get on better with it, don’t you?”
Andrew Fearn: “Yeah, the gig’s just another gig, innit?”
Jason: “Andrew sort of holds it together. He’ll be like the parent: ‘It’s gonna be alright – don’t worry.’ But I always think, ‘No’; I never enjoy it. Because it’s televised as well… There’s always gonna be someone at home going, ‘Yeah – I thought you were shit!’” JB
Olly Alexander, Years & Years
“Maybe this is a bad analogy, but like the Olympics of the UK music scene. It doesn’t get bigger than Glastonbury. It has such a history behind it and you play to your biggest audiences here. There’s a lot of nerves that come with the show and you just want to put on the best show that you can. I always dreamt of that when I was younger, so being able to be here with my team and crew and putting on the best show we can is just the best feeling. I’m so excited and grateful to be here. To be back is the best.” EC
“Glastonbury is just pure magic – the fun is relentless. It’s so unbelievably special to me because I’ve been coming here since I won the Emerging Talent Competition in 2015, and [the festival] has been really supportive since. Nothing compares to Glastonbury: it’s that one weekend each year where I know that this is exactly the place where I should be. I’ve had shows here at different stages in my career, and this year marks a new point for me; getting to play The Other Stage is testament to that. Glastonbury really is a beautiful thing.” SW
“It’s really big, isn’t it? I came in last night, and from the car park to my tipi it was a 40-minute walk: I was sweating and it was very overwhelming, but I’m very excited to be kicking it off on the Friday!” HM
Amyl and the Sniffers
Gus Romer: “Our first Glastonbury [in 2019]? It was fuckin’ hot. The weather was hot, the beers were fuckin’ warm. We had a pretty turbo drive that morning. I can’t remember where we drove from but we were fuckin’ up before the crack of dawn to drive in. It was kind of a shit show.”
Amy Taylor: “I remember there was a bloke backstage – because at that point we didn’t have, like, a rider or anything – and he was like, ‘I know there’s no rider so I’ve brung you a pack of Tim Tams.’ He put the Tim Tams in the fridge for us, so the Tim Tams were colder than the beers! That was very nice of him.” JB
“[The first time I came to Glastonbury], it’s like I walked into another world and into a trip. There are so many places to go, and you can just walk around and land on something random and be there for half-an-hour, and forget what time and life you’re in.
“This place feels really familiar to us: if you come to a Yungblud show there’s a very similar vibe – lots of colour and expression, lots of, ‘What did you come as?!’ You just end up having a conversation with people dressed up as a weird goblin fairy. Like, 10 minutes ago I just saw four people, stark-bollock naked, jumping on a trampoline. Only at Glastonbury.” TS
Conor Curley: “Definitely for me, [my favourite Glastonbury memory] would be playing the Rabbit Hole…”
Carlos O’Connell: “I was going to say the same thing.”
Conor: “… in 2019. We played four shows over three days and we were wrecked. We were doing everything ourselves at that time. We had one person driving us. We had one sound guy. And everything else was just all of us lifting stuff everywhere. Playing that last show at 2am or whatever it was – that was a highlight.” EK
“I probably can’t tell you the maddest thing that happened [at my first-ever Glastonbury] because I’d get myself in trouble. It was a bit more lawless in those days. It was 1987. I saw New Order on the Pyramid Stage. The bands that I remember were crazy-haired Gaye Bykers on Acid, Doctor and the Medics, Taj Mahal and New Order. There were others as well, but I can’t quite remember them because I was 17 and stoned. No weed those days! It was all hash.
“My daughter has actually headlined. On her first Glastonbury, she sang backing vocals with Coldplay. Chris [Martin] is an old, old friend and is Tilly’s godfather and he just invited her up on stage with his kids and their friend to sing on ‘Up&Up’. I was an incredibly proud dad that day. My first Glastonbury was 35 years ago and the biggest achievement I did was not taking a shit for three days.” AF
Check back at NME for the latest news, reviews, interviews photos and more from Glastonbury 2022